Planning and hosting school assemblies is a huge responsibility. After all, an assembly is something that brings together an entire school community and can set the tone for an entire day, week, or term. At Kings Monkton, we specifically tailor our assemblies as non-religious because we have such a spread of religions throughout the school. This opens up opportunities for us to be really creative and come up with fresh ideas to energise and enthuse the pupils.
As a rule, I always find that the best assemblies are those that are written specifically to speak to the children and the adults in the room and it goes without saying that preparation and planning are vital ingredients for crafting an assembly that provides a stimulating start to the day.
1. Pick a theme
Delivering an assembly that is engaging and relevant to an audience of pupils between nine and 18 years of age can be a real challenge. What’s vital is picking a theme that they can all relate to in some way. As this is the one point in the school day when your whole community gathers together as one, my top tip here is to choose themes that mirror the ethos of your school. At Kings Monkton, this means creating assemblies that teach lessons about tolerance, respect, high expectation and resilience.
2. Make it relevant
Sticking with themes, it’s also important to make sure your assemblies tackle relevant topics. If you hold an assembly that links to the TV programme your pupils watched last night, or the news stories that are popping up on their social media feeds, you’re more likely to grab their attention right from the word go.
At Kings Monkton, we’ve found that specific topics linked to key contemporary events are well received by learners, and recent assemblies in our own school have included ‘Heroes of the Paralympics’, ‘The Survivors of Aberfan’ and ‘12 million viewers can’t be wrong – the success of Planet Earth II’. Subjects like sustainability, climate change, citizenship and healthy living are also regular features of ours.
3. Hand over the reigns
Encouraging your learners to host their own pupil-led assemblies can be really beneficial for their development and works for youngsters of all ages. Some of the most powerful assemblies I’ve been a part of have emerged from learners taking ownership, picking topics they feel are relevant and important to their peers, and sharing the information they have gathered.
Just this year at Kings Monkton, pupil-led assemblies have included the themes of ambition, human rights, the American election, poverty and bullying while other pupils have used their assembly time to share valuable experiences such as one pupil’s visit to a World War I exhibit at a local museum, and another pupil’s account of a trek to Peru.
The preparation and delivery of their assembly requires our pupils to work as a team, planning, preparing and practising their delivery. The process can help boost confidence and self-esteem as well as encouraging pupils to work as a team, think tactically about educating others, and, over time, improve their oracy and communication skills.
Overall, the important thing to remember is that assemblies are about bringing the school community together in unity. Assemblies are a great way to reinforce your school’s messaging and by encouraging your pupils to lead their own assemblies, you’re showing them that their voices are valued within your school.
Abi Price is Head of Sixth Form at Kings Monkton School in Cardiff, South Wales. Kings Monkton is an independent school teaching a wide range of qualifications including A-levels, and BTECs.